ThinkFast: December 18, 2009

Obama in Copenhagen

Soon after arriving in Copenhagen, President Obama “called on world leaders to come to an agreement on climate change, no matter how imperfect, and pressed for a global climate change accord to include a way to monitor whether countries — namely China — are complying with promised emissions cuts.” “We are running short on time,” said Obama. “The time for talk is over.”

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) refused to commit to supporting the Senate health care bill, saying his concerns about abortion had “not been fully answered.” “We are working hard to persuade Senator Nelson that this is in the best interest of Nebraska and his constituents and the country,” White House senior adviser David Axelrod said.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) plans to delay the vote on Senate health care legislation as long as possible, forcing the chamber to take up the bill on Christmas Eve. “I think it’s our responsibility to stretch this out because every day we do we have time to tell Americans what’s in it,” DeMint told the press.

The Senate Banking Committee approved Ben Bernanke for a second term as Federal Reserve chairman. The 16-7 vote was far closer than the near-unanimous support he received four years ago. His nomination now heads to the full Senate for a “fiery debate,” and even some of his allies on the committee say they “might reconsider [their support] when the vote went to the Senate.”

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) warned yesterday that he will not support emergency funding for President Obama’s troop increase in Afghanistan if the White House request includes money to transfer Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. “I am not going to support a bill that — that facilitates bringing Gitmo prisoners to the United States,” he said.

“In an unusual dead-of-night session that opened just after midnight,” the Senate voted early this morning 63 to 33 to break a Republican filibuster and move to a vote on a Pentagon funding bill. The $626 billion plan “is the last spending measure due to pass this year and was easily passed by the House earlier this week. A final vote is expected early Saturday.”

“The Obama administration is planning to repatriate six Yemenis” held at Guantanamo Bay, “a transfer that could be a prelude to the release of dozens more detainees to Yemen” and the closure of the prison. “But Yemen’s security problems and lack of resources have spawned fears about its ability to monitor and rehabilitate returnees.”

In “an exceptionally heavy barrage by American drones in Pakistan” yesterday, “five Predator aircraft fired 10 missiles at suspected militant compounds along the border with Afghanistan.” Pakistani officials said the attacks killed at least 15 people, including 7 foreigners.

“Congress is launching a broad-ranging investigation into possible waste, misuse and corruption tied to billions of taxpayer dollars used to support private military contractors in Afghanistan.” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) called “for stepped-up government oversight of contract work in Afghanistan,” noting that “Pentagon auditors have already challenged nearly $1 billion in charges by military contractors.”

And finally: Keep it real with Michael Steele.

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